by Mike Kimel
A Partial Review of Bulls Bears and the Ballot Box
by Bob Deitrick and Lew Goldfarb
A couple of years ago, Michael Kanell of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and I wrote
administration took office to right before it left office, and in each case, we got the data from the most objective source available. Our approach was imperfect, but by maintaining consistency in how we approached each issue, we tried to be as unbiased as possible. And on many issues, we found that Presidents did well tended to follow similar policies to other Presidents that did well on the same issues,
and likewise, the Presidents who did poorly on the issues also tended to have similar policies to other Presidents who did poorly on the issues.
The book got virtually no press so almost nobody ever heard of it, and it didn’t sell all that well, which is obviously too bad for both me and Michael Kanell. But what I think is too bad for most Americans is
that the notion of trying to put an objective measure on the performance of our politicians hasn’t caught on. Sure, there are the various “think tanks” purporting to do just that, but they seem to start with a conclusion and work their way backward to justify that conclusion. I find that sort of thing less than useful.
As a result, I was pleased to hear from reader Susan M. about a new book entitled
Deitrick and Lew Goldfarb.
I didn’t find a copy at my local bookstore, so I ordered a copy online and it just came in the mail. I’ve read through the first two chapters already, its an easy, interesting and informative read. It ranks Presidents on their economic performance (from the perspective of the national economy, individuals’ wealth, and business prosperity), and then comes up with an overall ranking.
The rankings produced by Deitrick and Goldfarb in
deliberately torturing it, on average the data says what the data says. Whether or not you read
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My two cents: While I kind of agree with the book’s conclusion, their analysis is horrible and doesn’t really support the case. If they’re right, it’s the same way a stopped clock is right twice a day. They ignore the role of Congress, the impact of business cycles, the fact that there might be a lag before policies actually impact the economy, the effect of external events like, I don’t know, World War II, and a few other things like elementary statistics. I think the idea behind the book is a good one, but someone still needs to execute it in a passable way.